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By Madeleine Gray on November 8, 2016 in News

Photo: Ike Turner

Photo: Ike Turner

Four years ago, Roger Yeo and his wife Kathy had had no experience with domestic or family violence. For Roger, it was “something that happened to other people… in other neighbourhoods or other towns.”

In July 2012, the Yeo’s daughter, Rachelle Yeo, was stabbed to death by a jealous former partner. Their blissful ignorance was a thing of the past, and their lives were irrevocably tainted.

“For every tragedy affecting one victim, there are thousands of others lives impacted,” Mr Yeo said.

According to the National Homicide Monitoring Report 2012, on average over twelve months in Australia, one woman will be killed every week as a result of intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence is the leading contributor to death, disability and ill-health in Australian women aged 15 to 44 years. One in four children are exposed to domestic violence.

That means that Australian women are being injured and killed because of interpersonal violence perpetrated by men they know and trust. Men are killing women. And, according to Mr Yeo, “It’s not getting better.”

White Ribbon is an organisation that is attempting to change this. It bills itself as “the world’s largest movement of men and boys working to end men’s violence against women and girls, promote gender equality, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.”

This understanding – that violence of any kind is the result of a choice made by the perpetrator – is one of the many reasons that Mr Yeo has become an ambassador for White Ribbon.

“Men’s violence against women is a cultural issue,” Mr Yeo said. “For so long we have accepted attitudes and behaviours as normal: ‘men can’t control themselves’; ‘he was drunk’; ‘what was she wearing?’

“We have to teach our sons to respect women, and teach our daughters about what positive and supportive relationships should look like.”

Crucially, change comes about through awareness dialogue. On Friday, November 25, the Sydney White Ribbon Walk will take place, organised by NSW Police Eastern Beaches Local Area Command and Randwick City Council. The event aims to raise awareness of this insidious cultural problem, and to inspire people to talk about it with their friends.

At 7:30am, participants will walk from High Cross Park in Randwick down to Grant Reserve in Coogee, in solidarity with all women who have been, and may become, victims of male-perpetrated violence. Following the walk, an informal breakfast, speeches and oath ceremony will take place at Grant Reserve.

“The White Ribbon Walk sends an important message that as a community we stand strong and say no to domestic violence,” Randwick Mayor Noel D’Souza said.

“Together with NSW Police, Randwick City Council is proud to encourage locals to come together and start a meaningful dialogue about this important issue.”

Mr Yeo echoed Mayor D’Souza in urging everyone to attend the walk.

“Too often people tend to say ‘Oh my God, what a tragedy!’ and then continue with their daily routine until the next one,” he said. “We have to remember every death, or we won’t learn.”